Making its stand against moonlighting clearer, Wipro Ltd. chairman Rishad Premji has said the IT services giant has fired 300 employees, who were on the rolls of Wipro but were also found to be working with its direct competitor.
"The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that," says Premji at AIMA's (All India Management Association) National Management Convention, as per a news agency. He said their services were terminated for violating the "act of integrity", and that there’s no place for such employees at Wipro.
The Wipro chairman, however, said in some cases, employees and an organisation can have an open talk on this issue, and make a concerted choice. But, he said, there's no place for those working for Wipro and at the same time, its competitors.
Rishad Premji has consistently been expressing his views against the 'moonlighting' trend. Last month, he tweeted that it's nothing but "cheating". "There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating - plain and simple," said.
The Wipro stock is trading 0.37% down at ₹399.25 on the NSE today.
The term 'moonlighting' has become the bone of contention between some of the biggest companies and employees, and has sparked fresh debate on whether such activity should be allowed or discouraged.
India's second biggest IT services company Infosys Ltd. this month shot a letter to its employees, saying it can't allow "double lives". As per Infosys, employees "agree not to take employment, whether full-time or part-time as director/partner/member/employee of any other organisation or entity engaged in any form of business activity without the consent of Infosys." It warned that violation of its clauses will lead to disciplinary action, even termination from the company.
However, not all share the same opinions. Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani had recently tweeted that he welcomes "disruption" in the ways the company works and that it's important to also change with times.
Reacting to the development at Wipro, Pune-based tech employees association NITES (Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate) has condemned the move, saying it's "unethical".
Harpreet Singh Saluja, NITES chief, says the sacked employees can join the association as it's gearing up for a legal battle against "illegal clauses mentioned in the offer letter of IT sector employees".
"The clauses mentioned in the offer letters and employment contracts need to be reviewed legally by the judiciary. The arbitrary termination of employees is unethical & illegal, and NITES will leave no stone unturned to provide justice to aggrieved employees," says Saluja.
For the unversed, the term moonlighting refers to the practice of working on a second job or multiple other work assignments during normal business hours or outside business hours. Dual employment in India means being employed by more than one employer at the same time.
Despite contrary views by two of India's biggest IT services companies, the trend of 'ethical moonlighting' is rising. Over the last two years, primarily due to working from home culture amid Covid, the trend has snowballed.
Last month, one of India's largest food delivery startup, Swiggy introduced a new ‘moonlighting policy’, which allows employees to pick up additional projects outside work. As per the company, any project or activity that is taken up outside office hours or on the weekend, without affecting productivity, and does not have a conflict of interest, can be picked up by the employees.